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Scottish Apprenticeships update

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In 2016 new regulations and a different methodology for assessing apprentices in Scotland were put forward to be adopted in 2017. This change moved the responsibility away from colleges and meant that employers needed to cover the full scope of the SVQ as part of the learners’ ongoing work experience.  

A typical Apprenticeship in Scotland lasts 4 years and learners from the first cohort should have been completing in 2021, however Covid impacted on this and created a delay in completion. However, as learners from this initial cohort neared completion it has come to light that the apprenticeship approach has not been working as it should and there is a backlog in completions. 

CITB supports the view that apprenticeships should cover a broad range of content to make sure apprentices have well-rounded knowledge of their occupation. Apprentices’ experience and knowledge should not be limited to their employer’s workbook.  

We believe the most appropriate route for ensuring apprenticeships work for both apprentices and employers is through the work of the Technical Employer Groups (TEG). While the TEG’s vital work takes place CITB is working with SQA, employers, apprentices and government to support additional flexibility in the assessment regime to help apprentices complete their qualification.  

2017 Apprentices

Back in August last year, 801 learners from the 2017 cohort were identified as at risk of not being able to successfully complete their apprenticeship due to a combination of; delays because of the pandemic; and increased requirements for practical assessment evidence to be work-based.  Working with partners, this number has been dramatically reduced, but we estimate that around 114 apprentices’ completions are at risk without further interventions and actions.   

As of 25 August 2022: 

  • 753 learners now completed  
  • 46 learners left programme  
  • 90 learners expected to complete by late 2022  
  • 88 learners where significant barriers to completion still exist  

Delays to the completion of the 2017 cohort of apprentices, could affect the college capacity for 2018 cohort and beyond.  

Steps we are taking to help apprentices complete their apprenticeship

Since the challenges to completions for the 2017 learner cohort were identified, CITB has worked collaboratively with other stakeholders to provide more flexibility and to support learner progression. This includes for 2017 and 2018 cohort:  

  • Skills Test can be completed out of sequence  
  • Evidence obtained from Skills Test can be used as part of learners’ portfolios.  

In addition, for cohorts 2017 through to 2020:  

  • Knowledge elements of the SVQ can be obtained from the Professional Development Award 
  • Use of simulation for candidates where elements of the units cannot be met by employer work-based experience, as a last resort 

Our experience is many colleges are using these additional flexibilities; however, we are providing additional support to ensure widespread and consistent use of them.  

We are supportive of the flexibility that has been put in place and recommend it remains in place until the underlying challenges around work-based evidence requirements are resolved.

CITB recommendations for additional support 

In addition to the support and flexibility that is already in place, CITB are working with partners to provide additional support for learner progression. This includes looking at the following areas:  

  • Increased number of occupationally competent staff within the CITB apprenticeship team, to enable a greater level of support around occupational specific barriers to completion 
  • Exploring how we can offer a greater level of support and guidance for simulation activity aimed at the core barriers to completion, with the potential for investment in shared industry infrastructure   
  • Identifying potential solutions within the Assessment Strategy for different forms of acceptable evidence 
  • Understanding any opportunities provided by the imminent launch of revised SVQ qualifications 
  • Additional support and guidance for colleges and employers  

Looking forward: new starters 2022

 For new learners starting a Modern Construction Apprenticeship in 2022 and beyond, CITB will ensure we only start apprentices where we have a good level of confidence that they will be able to gain the required level of work-based experience to complete the qualification. To gain this insight prior to sign-up CITB will use the Apprenticeship Training Schedule and Skills Scan to RAG rate all potential new learners. 

The RAG status and relevant action are detailed in the following list:


  • No significant gaps identified 
    • Continue with sign up 


  • Significant gap identified however there is a viable solution in place to fill any gaps 
    • Sign up, but ensure gaps and solutions are recorded, and monitored via progress reviews 


  • Significant gap identified and we haven’t identified a viable solution to fill those gaps 
    • Do not sign up, and support identification of more suitable pathway